Monday, May 23, 2005

Signing the Contract

In the old days, when I sold a story to ANALOG and some other magazines, they just sent a check. Now this wasn't an ordinary check -- it had a little contract written on it. So, when you endorsed the check to deposit it, you also signed the contract. Well, aside from the dodge of depositing it with only the phrase 'For Deposit Only' on the check instead of a signature, it wasn't a horrible deal if you were dealing with respectable markets. However, I suspect someone challenged the legality of the contract-on-the-check method, because it's more involved these days.

I received the envelope from Dell Magazines. I had been waiting for it, and once again, for just a second, I thought it was from Dell Computers. The last time this happened I was out of town and the person handling the mail for us made the same mistake and put it in the stack with the advertising flyers and other junk mail.

But I was ready for it this time. Inside were two copies of a contract. I had to sign both and send them back. After "four to six weeks", I'll get my copy of the contract and finally, a check. There was something to be said for the immediacy of the old way.

The contract was plain and simple. The was the dollar amount listed for their use of it, with my guarantee not to sell if for another use during the same time frame. There were additional options, just in case they wanted to use it for anthologies or foreign editions, etc. There was a little more cash offered if they did that, but that's not a given. If I were famous, I'd probably be wise to mark out those and charge more for my award-winning prose, but I'll worry about that later.

They also asked for an emailed copy of the manuscript. They need a nice paper copy for submission, but when it comes to composing the magazine, an nice text file certainly reduces the chances for errors.

Now, all I have to do is wait. A month for the check. Probably six to twelve months for the story to be published. After that, I'll file for the copyright. Ah! The hectic pace of modern publication.


Chris Nystrom said...

Congrats on selling a story to Dell!

Anonymous said...

Henry ,
I see the contract finally came in the mail. I am happy for you and hope all goes well with Dell. I really enjoy reading your Blog.